Playing Online Poker, Busting Out of the Micros and My PokerTracker 4 HUD | Q&A | #39

Three great listener questions today about playing poker online, busting out of the micros and my own PokerTracker 4 HUD.

In episode 38 I helped Dennis plug his leak of losing too much money in the blinds in my 3rd Leak Plugging episode.

Playing Online Poker, Busting Out of the Micros and My PokerTracker 4 HUD | Q&A | #39

Question 1 comes from Scottyt:

Sky,

I have been having a real problem with online poker at 10nl for some time now . I started with Carbon poker and played there for some 10 or so years, never building a bankroll in all that time. All I ever did at Carbon was just deposit after deposit.  It was so sickening to say the least.

The times that I was bad beaten or sucked out on only made me more angry until I had a chat with the site and told them I was done with their rigged poker site.  It’s a long story .

I am a student of the game of poker and I spend most of my free time at doing just that: reading poker books, visiting poker training sites and watching poker videos etc . I have invested a lot of my hard earned money into the poker materials. The reason I am sending you this letter is that I have come to my wits end with this whole online poker thing.

I can’t build a bankroll.  There’s just way too many fish that will call you down with bottom and middle pairs only to river you . I am hoping that I could get a little bit of direction from you if possible.

Thanks for your time.

Thanks, Scottyt.

The first thing I want you to know is that I really believe that online sites are not rigged.  I don’t believe they have any good reason to make some players win and others lose.  Of course, collusion between players is possible, as well as some sort of “god code” that allows them to see the cards.  But if that’s the case, they wouldn’t be playing at the micro stakes with that sort of cheating power.

It sounds to me like you might be suffering from Entitlement Tilt or Hate Losing Tilt.  I suffered from Entitlement Tilt big time for quite a while, and only through hard work in my warm-ups, cool downs and keeping in mind logic statements during my play time did I get over it.  I recommend picking up ‘The Mental Game of Poker’ which I had discussed back in episode 19.

If you look at the whole “crappy players sucking out thing” from a different perspective, it’s a great thing that these players call to the river and suck out with crap hands that should’ve been folded early on.  In episode 12 about player targeting, I told a story about a poker pro who took lessons from an old asian businessman who crushed his games by targeting players who wouldn’t fold.  If you’re up against a fish who calls down w/any draw or BP, then don’t ever try to bluff him and only value bet, and value bet him bigger than usual.  If you’re up against a tight player and he starts to get active after the flop, then lay down your marginal hand as you’re prolly beat.  You might not realize this, but folding can be an exploitative play.  If you know he’s strong, and you fold, you aren’t giving any more money to the guy, so you’re exploiting his obvious show of strength by folding.

Make sure you have strong opening, calling and 3betting ranges pre-flop.  Players at these stakes play way too many hands and stay in too long with draws.  You exploit these tendencies by playing stronger ranges and betting strongly to gain max value from them.  I discussed this a bit in episode 22 covering the first skill in Ed Miller’s book ‘The Course.’

The rake is a total profit killer in the micros.  Do what you have to do to play higher than 10NL, and get rakeback.

Question 2 comes from Chris:

Chris says:

I found your podcast via reddit.  I really enjoy it.  Less about specific poker tips/hands, and more about how to intake and process information.  It’s been great.  I’m only 10-ish episodes in.

I played live poker with pals years ago (low stakes, and I stink), and just recently got interested in it again.

I found the HoldEmIndicator HUD, and despite the $100 price tag, I installed the trial version.  The “maths” being displayed is a huge bonus for my learning.

I’m not yet ready for pay poker yet.  I have a grasp on starting hands, and can sometimes understand how those hands change via table position, but I have lots to learn.

Are there any other semi-mandatory tools or resources I should look at?  Are there starting-hand flash cards or something that you can recommend?

I think my next step after starting hands is betting (how, why, etc).  Right now I just follow the main ideas of not limping into the pot, and betting 3x the big blind when I go in with a hand I want to play.

Keep up the great work.

Chris

Thanks, Chris.

You said you’re not ready for pay-poker just yet, but you’ve got to just jump in there and do it, b/c the sooner you do the sooner you’ll become comfortable with it and start to improve your skills.  You can always just deposit $50 and play $.01/$.02 games on some sites (like ACR) or even $.05/$.10 and just buy-in for the 40bb ($4.00 minimum).  $50 can last you a while as long as you’re playing just 1 or 2 tables and thinking through your decisions.  I just mentioned the rake at the micros is a profit killer, but everyone needs to start somewhere and these tiny stakes will get you used to the software, the basic game play and will help you deal with the variance online.

As for a site recommendation, it’s gotta be ACR to start.  I’m moving my action from Carbon to ACR and soon to Bovada as well.  PT4 works with ACR, and I recently learned that you can import hand histories from Bovada into PT4 to do hand history reviews and work on your leaks.

Regarding starting hand ranges, I recommend the following:

14% Range
EP (early position which is UTG-HJ) – about 14%
22% range
CO – 22% Range
BTN - 33% Range
BTN – 33% Range

Blinds – same as EP

Visit pokerstrategy.com and download their free version of Equilab so you can create and test your ranges against other hands and ranges.

I mentioned earlier to think through your decisions.  The place to start with that is to make sure you have a reason for every play you make.  Examples:

Fold – “b/c (my hand is crap)(the odds he’s giving me are bad for drawing)(he’s got a monster)”

Call – “b/c (I’m getting great odds)(my pair is likely good)(I’ll steal on the next street when he checks)”

Bet – “b/c (he’ll call with worse)(he’ll fold better hands)(he’ll pay off with all his draws)”

Raise – “b/c (he’ll pay me off)(the draw just hit and he’ll think I’ve got the flush and fold his TP)”

Question 3 comes from Jimmy:

Dear Sky,

Podcast listener from Sweden here! I recently started playing online poker again after taking a break for a couple of years. Discovered your podcast recently and I’ve listened to every single episode – loving it!

Decided to purchase the PT4 using your referral link to support your work. Would really appreciate it if you could send a copy of your HUD.

Keep up the great work!

Best Regards,

Jimmy

Thanks for the support and the email, Jimmy.  And all the kind words as well.

Thanks also for clicking through my site to purchase PT4, it really does help me a lot.  And by the time you listeners hear this, I will have already sent Jimmy my HUD for him to use.  So if you’d like copies of my HUD as well, just purchase PT4 through the link below and I’ll send it to you.  I actually sent it to Jimmy within 3 hours of his initial email to me with a screenshot of his purchase.

Podcast Challenge

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode: If you aren’t online yet, get on it!  Some of the benefits of online poker: more hands played = more experience, less boredom, hand tracking lets you examine your play very closely and you can play in the comfort of your home.

Sky Matsuhashi